I've got my rights
Be careful of your thoughts
For your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words
For your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions
For your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits
For your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character
For your character becomes your destiny."
– Author unknown
Philippians 1: 9-11 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
Paul was writing from prison – he was Nero's prisoner. But his mind was on the church at Philip, and even in his circumstances he was commending the church and telling them how he thanked God for them and “always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” He encouraged the saints at Philippi with the words, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
How would you like to get a letter like that? How would it make you feel? His words let us know that his attitude toward his friends was upbeat and his circumstances did not diminish his care for others. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
We hear preaching how our actions should be “unquestionable.” We know how important it is to show kindness, work together, bear one another's burdens, encourage our sisters and brothers, be an example in love and so forth. But unless our attitudes are right, our actions will not speak of love and surrender, but rather be forced and pretended.
Jesus gave us the model for our attitudes in Philippians 2:5-8: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Let's look at the Words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5).
Called the “Bill of Rights” the principles in the Beatitudes set forth a strange new doctrine. Always, righteousness had been exterior, not a matter of the heart – an attitude. But surprisingly, the law was not destroyed by the teachings of Christ, but strengthened. What people could hide under a mask of self-righteousness before, now was exposed.
Jesus gave us six examples of “Ye have heard … but I say …” to make the life possible that He described in the Beatitudes: murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation and love for one's enemies. For each he offered an attitude adjustment.
Not only did Christ tell us to love our neighbor, our brother, but He goes farther, saying we should love our enemies. Anyone can love someone who loves back, but it takes a special “attitude adjustment” to love someone who tries to hurt.
Retaliation is not the Christian way. We don't love by the law of “you black my eye, I'll black both of yours,” You step on my toes, I'll stomp your foot.”
The child of God has a different attitude – it's a matter for the heart.
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